Rick Perry made at least two things clear in his veto orgy on Friday: the wars on women’s rights and strong public schools continue in Texas.

Gov. Perry vetoed HB 950, the Lily Ledbetter Act, which would have helped stop wage discrimination against women in the state. Just days earlier, Gov. Perry asked state lawmakers in the current special legislative session to pass abortion measures that put government between women and their doctors. State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, author of the Lily Ledbetter Act, got it right:

“Once again our governor has made women’s health and women’s rights a target in order to bolster his own political standing.”

State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, also got it right:

“These are political decisions that are part of a political war, and women are – at best – the collateral damage in that war.”

Gov. Perry also vetoed HB 2836, which would have — among other things — required the Texas Education Agency to study whether the public school curriculum standards adopted by the State Board of Education have become too long, complicated and unwieldy. In fact, they have — largely as a… Read More

Oklahoma state Rep. Doug Cox, a physician who has delivered more than 800 babies, is frustrated with his Republican colleagues who want legislation limiting women’s access to both abortion and contraception. In a column in The Oklahoman newspaper, Cox asks with dismay:

“What happened to the Republican Party that I joined? The party where conservative presidential candidate Barry Goldwater felt women should have the right to control their own destiny? The party where President Ronald Reagan said a poor person showing up in the emergency room deserved needed treatment regardless of ability to pay? What happened to the Republican Party that felt government should not overregulate people until (as we say in Oklahoma) ‘you have walked a mile in their moccasins’?

What happened to the Republican Party that felt that the government has no business being in an exam room, standing between me and my patient? Where did the party go that felt some decisions in a woman’s life should be made not by legislators and government, but rather by the women, her conscience, her doctor and her God?”

We couldn’t agree more. We’ve watched politicians launch a war on women’s health and access to… Read More

TFN Insider is pleased to present this guest post from Rev. Beth Ellen Cooper of Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Church. Rev. Cooper participated in TFN's clergy gathering earlier this week in support of access to birth control and state funding for family planning. She blogs regularly for the Houston Chronicle at Keep the Faith Process Matters - Democracy Demands It Rev. Beth Ellen Cooper Responsible citizenship demands participation -- we're all reminded of that at voting time. But it can also demand participation outside of electoral processes. On Monday I went to the Austin State House as a woman, a Unitarian Universalist minister, and as a member of the Clergy Advisory Board of the Texas Freedom Network. We held a short service to express our religious and moral conviction that equal and open access to comprehensive reproductive health services is a basic right for all Texas women, and to raise our faith-based conviction that decisions around using birth control are matters of individual conscience, not subject to limitation or coercion by either government or employer. But it…… Read More

Before you head out for the long weekend, put this on your calendar for next week: Proposed changes to the Texas Medicaid Women’s Health Program get a public hearing in Austin next Tuesday afternoon. Here are the when and where details.

There are real questions about whether this successful program, which provides basic health and family planning services to low-income women, will be able to offer its services at the level it once did. But it’s not (only) because of funding concerns. It’s because some state lawmakers made an ideological decision to exclude all providers that are “affiliated with” a clinic that provides abortion services. The rules are clearly aimed at Planned Parenthood — which serves nearly half of all clients under the existing system — but they also exclude a number of other providers as well.

The Austin Chronicle has a write-up on the hearing:

To recap: last year state lawmakers prompted the rewriting of rules governing the Women’s Health Program in order to cut Planned Parenthood, the program’s single largest provider, from the loop. While the rules for the WHP had always contained a prohibition on allowing abortion providers to serve clients, until last… Read More

The war on women and women’s health services has reached new heights over the past year. The Texas Legislature has limited or even ended basic health care services, including contraceptive services, for hundreds of thousands of women. The same lawmakers passed a bill forcing women who seek an abortion to undergo an invasive sonogram with a vaginal probe while their doctors lecture them from a government-mandated script. One of the leaders in those efforts openly admitted that he and his colleagues are engaged in a “war on birth control, abortion, everything — that’s what family planning is supposed to be about.” And right-wing pressure groups along with lawmakers in Washington and states across the country want an employer’s religion to dictate whether employees have access to affordable contraceptive services.

Are you tired of politicians intruding on a woman’s right to make her own decisions about contraception and other health care? Join other Texans rallying against the war on women on Saturday at the Texas Capitol in Austin.

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller will speak at the Texans Unite Against the War on Women rally. The rally begins at 4 p.m., with similar events planned in… Read More